Today is Rizal Day, a national holiday celebrated annually in the Philippines. Rizal Day commemorates the work and life of José Rizal. José Protacio Rizal Mercado y Alonso Realonda (June 19, 1861 – December 30, 1896) was a Filipino nationalist, novelist, poet, ophthalmologist, journalist and revolutionary. He is credited with starting the Philippine revolution against the Spanish colonizers. Rizal is the author of two novels, “Noli me Tangere” (“Touch me not”) and the sequel “El filibusterismo” (“The Filibustering” or “Reign of Greed”), which exposed the injustices brought on by the Spanish colonizers in the Philippines. His undated poem, Mi último adiós believed to be written a few days before his execution, was hidden in an alcohol stove, which was later handed to his family with his few remaining possessions, including the final letters and his last bequests.
Rizal Day is celebrated every December 30, the day of Rizal’s execution at Bagumbayan, now known as Rizal Park, in 1896. Emilio Aguinaldo, the first president of the Philippines, commemorated the first Rizal Day in 1898. Rizal is widely considered as one of the greatest heroes of the Philippines.
I do not write for this generation. I am writing for other ages. If this could read me, they would burn my books, the work of my whole life. On the other hand, the generation which interprets these writings will be an educated generation; they will understand me and say: ‘Not all were asleep in the nighttime of our grandparents.’
– José Rizal